Jalandhar bishop accused of raping Kerala nun steps down

New Delhi: Franco Mulakkal, the Jalandhar Bishop accused of rape by a nun, on Saturday asked his deputy to administer the diocese while he faces the police probe in Kerala, but insisted that he hadn’t stepped down yet.

The Kerala nun rape case has been brought to the notice of Vatican and a representative from the Vatican is already in India to discuss the issue with Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto. The meeting is underway in Chandigarh to decide the future course of action.

‘Several contradictions in the evidences’

  • In a letter dated September 13, where he mentioned he would step down, Bishop Franco Mulakkal wrote: “I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and prayers for me at this time continued problems affecting my Episcopal ministry. As you have probably come to know from the media the investigation into the allegations raised against me there are several contradictions in the evidences collected against me as per the report of the police. It is reported I am likely to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala.”
  • He further wrote that he leaves “everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation.” “In my absence Msgr. Mathew Kokkandam will administer the Diocese as is the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese,” the letter reads.
  • The Jalandhar police also served a notice to the accused bishop today to appear before the Kerala police on September 19.

Victim sought Vatican intervention

  • The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was “closing its eyes to the truth”, when she had mustered courage to make public her suffering.
  • She alleged that Bishop Mulakkal was using “political and money power” to “bury” the case against him. The nun has accused the clergyman of repeated sexual assault between 2014 and 2016.
  • The bishop has, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless and concocted”, insisting she levelled charges against the Catholic order as it had rejected her demand for favours.

Violation of law?

  • Kerala police on Friday registered a complaint against the Missionaries of Jesus hours after the congregation released a photograph of the nun, seated with her alleged tormentor.
  • The congregation put out the photograph in a release issued to the media to publish the findings of its enquiry commission, which looked into the nun’s allegations.
  • Indian laws prohibit revealing the identity of rape and sexual assault survivors and victims.
  • The congregation, however, cautioned against publishing the photograph, saying it cannot be held responsible if the press violates the rule.
  • The case was registered by the Kuravilangadu police station in Kottayam district on the complaint filed by the alleged survivor’s brother, officials said. The convent is located within the Kuravilangadu police station limits.
  • The nun’s brother approached Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash, who heads the special investigation team, with the complaint, they said.

Protests for last eight days

Catholic nuns in Kerala’s Kochi city have been on a protest for the last eight days demanding the arrest of Bishop. They have accused church officials of trying to scuttle their agitation with a combination of promises and intimidation.

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